Enter Tiffany

Day Three: Let’s get to the funny.

*

bride of chucky 1998BRIDE OF CHUCKY

3.5 Stars  1998/18/85m

“Chucky gets lucky.”

A.k.a. Child’s Play 4

Director: Ronny Yu / Writer: Don Mancini / Cast: Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif, Katherine Heigl, Nick Stabile, John Ritter, Gordon Michael Woolvett, Alexis Arquette, Lawrence Dane.

Body Count: 14

Laughter Lines: “I knew you were obsessed… but Chucky? He’s so… 80s.”


After the series suffered the damage of the bullshit allegations levelled at Child’s Play 3, which was also Don Mancini’s intended jumping-off point, it looked like the world had seen the last of Chucky. While the likes of Puppetmaster vs. Demonic Dolls ground on straight to video, the slasher genre, all but dead and buried, was shocked back to life courtesy of Scream and, naturally, all those franchises that helped build it first time around were ripe for re-picking.

Halloween H20 was first off the marks in the summer of ’98 but Chucky Inc were quick to cash in, overhauling the unintentionally (?) funny schtick of the formula and going for all-out self-referencing black humour.

bride of chucky 1998

Shortly after the events of the last film, Charles Lee Ray’s girlfriend Tiffany manages to get a crooked cop to hand over the dismembered remains of the Good Guy doll. She stitches and staple-guns him back together, adds new limbs, and consults Voodoo for Dummies to complete the resurrection spell. However, getting Chucky back does not result in the romantic reunion she hoped for, as the ring she assumed was a marriage proposal for the best part of a decade was in fact acquired from one of Chucky’s last victims.

Heartbroken, she imprisons him in a crib and gives him a talking bride doll as company. Ever resourceful, Chucky breaks out, electrocutes Tiffany in the bath and resurrects her spirit into the bride doll. Needing to get to an amulet that was buried with Ray’s body, Tiffany calls her hunky young neighbour Jesse and asks him to transport the two dolls to New Jersey.

bride of chucky 1998

Jesse collects girlfriend Jade, who is under the rule of her ass-hat police chief uncle (the late Ritter) and they drive off for a new life unwittingly with a body in the back of the van. Anxious to bring him into the 90s, Tiffany and Chucky trade inventive methods of dispatching their victims, including nails catapulted into the face, immolation by car, and a memorable shattered glass ceiling raining on to a couple on a waterbed.

In the meantime, Jesse and Jade – married in a drive-in chapel – suspect each other of the murders that are following them, eventually forcing Chucky and Tiffany to reveal who they are and what they need. The quartet continue on towards the cemetery before Ray’s body is exhumed (his fingerprints were found at an earlier crime scene) and the sexy teens manage to turn the two of them against one another and make a break for it.

bride of chucky 1998 katherine heigl nick stabile

Whereas the Child’s Play trilogy were horror movies with some comedy, the Chucky films (all titled Blah ‘of Chucky’ hereafter) are black comedies with some horror elements – but it works better given the central premise is that the killer is a doll that nobody thinks to just step on. The addition of Tilly’s Tiffany is gold and, while possibly the joke is overdone in the next film, it’d be near impossible to revert things to the unsettling is-it-the-kid? tone of the original.

While Tilly and Dourif relish in their voice-roles (and Tilly is also a blast beforehand), there’s great support from Ritter as the slimy patriarch, Alexis Arquette as Tiff’s wannabe-badass plaything, Kathy Najimy as a housekeeper, and – gasp! – a gay character! Well, he gets hit by a truck rather than murdered by the dolls, but there’s a little progress there. Jesse and Jade are acceptably highschool sweetheart leads, any presence they have dwarfed by their 36-inch counterparts, but Heigl and Stabile do their best with what they’re given, they’re just a little too perfect and beautiful.

bride of chucky 1998

Bride of Chucky is the epitome of a fun horror flick: It’s gloriously far-fetched and stupid, but never stoops to fart-gag level humour for its multitude of LOLs.

Blurbs-of-interest: Tilly was in Far From Home in the late 80s, and later featured in The Caretaker; Dourif was in TraumaUrban Legend (the cop at the start was also in this as the car accident victim in Alicia Witt’s flashback), Rob Zombie’s Halloween remakes, Dead ScaredChain Letter, and Color of Night; Katherine Heigl cameo’d in Valentine; Alexis Arquette was in Children of the Corn V; Lawrence Dane was in Happy Birthday to Me. Ronny Yu directed Freddy vs. Jason a few years later.

TGI Friday (the 13th!): Nakeboarding

Woo! It’s Jason-day!

friday the 13th 2009 wakeboarding

love wakeboarding; my kinda sport… Although doing it without an impact vest seems a bit dumb, but then how else would we see boobs? Also, Chelsea’s feet fly off the board when she crashes out – not easy if you’re strapped in right! Also, the board totally disappears thereafter. Nayyyy… those fuckers float.

Anyway – be good, kids. No drinking, drugs, pre-martial sex or, as we see, naked adrenalin sports.

Morality, Mistruths, and Military School

Day Two: I reviewed Child’s Play 2 some while ago, so it’s a hop, skip, and a jump (unless you’re three-feet-two, Chuck) on to the one that got blamed for a few things, Part 3…

 

child's play 3 1992CHILD’S PLAY 3

3 Stars  1991/18/86m

“Look Who’s Stalking!”

Director: Jack Bender / Writer: Don Mancini / Cast: Justin Whalin, Perrey Reeves, Jeremy Sylvers, Travis Fine, Dean Jacobson, Dakin Matthews, Andrew Robinson, Peter Haskell, Brad Dourif.

Body Count: 8


Just as the folks at Camp Crystal Lake never learned and keep re-opening the joint, so the Good Guys toy manufacturer fails to learn from all the deaths linked to their product and keep resurrecting it.

Some of Chucky’s blood from the molten plastic heap he ended up as at the end of CP2 leaks into the production of a new batch and thus gives him a new body. He celebrates by tormenting and killing the CEO of the company, after he brands consumers idiots.

Eight years have passed and Chucky uses a computer to track down Andy’s whereabouts (he does this in about 16 seconds despite eight years of software upgrades), discovering he’s been packed off to the Kent Military Academy.

child's play 3 1991 justin whalin

Naturally, Chucky appears soon after but instead of being unwrapped by Andy, he’s picked up by pre-teen cadet Tyler, who, under the new-body rules, is now the target of Hide the Soul. Andy’s attempts to stop Chucky rile bullying Colonel Shelton, but draw the affections of fearless female cadet DeSilva (watch her awesome hair shake-out as the sadistic barber happens by).

So it’s death by garbage compactor, grenade, and terror-induced heart attack until the ghost train finale, which seems a bit contrived, even by the standards of this series. Creator Don Mancini was allegedly pushed into writing this outing without much preparation time and considers it the least impressive of the lot, which is a fair summary.

child's play 3 1991

Now, the film’s bizarre legacy has gained more notoriety than the picture itself: When two 10-year-old boys abducted and murdered a two-year-old in the early 90s, Britain’s infamously shitty tabloid press decided not to question parenting or social issues that led to the crime, no, they pointed the finger squarely at horror movies, in particular this one, which had been rented by the stepfather of one of the boys some months prior.

the mirror child's play 3 banned

Complete bullshit. Nothing was banned.

Never mind the fact neither of them had seen it, or that none of its content tallied with the crime, it was evil and must be banned, said the likes of The Sun and The Daily Mail, unquestionably THE worst newspapers in the history of print media. One paper even tried to encourage people to burn their horror video cassettes in a sad echo of the 80s ‘Video Nasty’ bollocks, and The Mirror praised itself for ‘banning’ Child’s Play 3 on its own front page – about the only time Chucky will get that accolade.

Coinciding with this but hardly reported on at the time, a teenage girl tortured and murdered was played a sample of Chucky’s infamous ‘wanna play’ utterance at full volume by a group of scutty assholes who killed her over a stolen coat!

As with these papers and their ilk, it was all lies. The film was not banned, it was simply withdrawn by the distributor CIC, the knock-on effect of which was that incoming psycho-child flick Mikey was refused a BBFC certificate. Nothing banned, nothing achieved by hack right-wing morality play journalists. The film reappeared within a few years, notably sporting an 18 certificate instead of the 15 granted to the first two movies.

Homicidal cockwombles will always exist and moral guardian tabloid wannabes will always find a sub-cultural scapegoat, be it horror movies, video games, or Marilyn Manson tracks, but never their own media moguls who exploit tax loopholes and lie to the masses in order to save more money. Nope, never them.

child's play 3 1991

All this drama aside, it’s probably the least fun entry in the series, but a moderately enjoyable hour-and-a-half nonetheless and the military school setting is good, if not used to its full potential. And fuck you, tabloid liars.

City of the Doll

Cult of Chucky is pending. I noticed I’ve only reviewed two of the other films in the series, so let’s countdown to the release by rectifying that…

Day One:

 

child's play 1988CHILD’S PLAY

3 Stars  1988/15/84m

“You’ll wish it was only make believe!”

Director: Tom Holland / Writers: Don Mancini, John Lafia & Tom Holland / Cast: Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, Dinah Manoff, Brad Dourif, Jack Colvin.

Body Count: 5

Laughter Lines: “He said Aunt Maggie was a real bitch and got what she deserved!”


The inauguration of a horror icon begins here with the hokey but fun enough debut, which gives us all the information we need as to how the spirit of the Lakeshore Stranger – Charles Lee Ray – projects his soul into a talking Good Guy doll using voodoo mumbo jumbo.

Said talking doll is purchased from a homeless guy by hard-up widow Karen Barclay, for her six-year-old son Andy’s birthday. Andy is overjoyed with his new friend, and soon begins relaying the slightly odd things Chucky is apparently telling him. This is bad news for his babysitter, who receives a blow to the face from a toy hammer and tumbles out of an apartment block window.

The homicide detective from the Strangler case is assigned and immediately suspects Andy of the killing and the death of the Strangler’s accomplice soon after. Andy is packed off to a clinic for observation, blaming Chucky who, of course, just prattles off his three phrases.

child's play 1988

Karen is quick to discover that there is more to Andy’s story when she finds the batteries that came with the doll are still in the box, in what’s easily the film’s creepiest scene. She tries to convince the detective but his instinct is to believe she’s just trying to protect her son from the consequences but then stumbles upon some coincidences between the case and that of the Strangler. Da-da-daaaaa!

Chucky himself finds that the longer he stays a doll, the harder it will be to find rebirth into a human soul and the more vulnerable to harm he becomes, and the only viable soul is that of the first person he revealed his true self to – Andy.

Relatively high-end production values distinguish this film from the dying slasher genre at the end of the 80s, raking in decent profits as Jason, Freddy, and Michael experienced diminishing returns. Child’s Play achieves its distinction – and probably a chunk of its success – to avoiding most slasher movie rules, at least in this first one, with murders by accident or voodoo as opposed to the doll-with-a-blade in the sequels.

child's play 1988 hicks sarandon

A fair amount of debt should be owed to Freddy Krueger, as Chucky soon becomes efficient with his potty-mouthed one-liners in Brad Dourif’s inimitable drawl. Imitators soon appeared in the shape of Puppetmaster (and its ten sequels!), Demonic ToysDolly Dearest, and even the more recent Annabelle, proving a degree gold had indeed been unearthed.

A lot of weight also rests on the shoulders of Alex Vincent who, aged just seven, does well with the dark material without descending into territory of annoying child who the audience secretly wants to see thrown into a meat grinder (see Absurd for that kid). He also gets to utter that awesome climactic line: “This is the end, friend!” For her part, Hicks does a great job as his beleaguered Mom and defacto final girl.

child's play 1988

Mancini’s original script was far more psychologically based, with the doll serving as an excuse for Andy’s psychosis and a critique of the marketing-to-children boom in the greed-obsessed 80s. Everyone remembers the urban legend about Cabbage Patch Kids right? As it is, despite the final act descending into outright parody as the doll that just won’t fucking die, something of a modern classic in spite of itself.

Blurbs-of-interest: Hicks was another Mom-on-the-run in 1982’s Death Valley, which featured another pre-teen kid as the lead; Alex Vincent returned for the next film as well as Curse of Chucky and Cult of Chucky; Brad Dourif was also in Chain LetterColor of NightDead Scared, Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies, Trauma, and Urban Legend.

The 50 Best Foreign* Slasher Flicks: 10-1

Whoop! Here we go – who is numero uno?

Go back and see: #50-41; #40-31; #30-21; #20-11

10: Deep Red (Italy, 1975)

VeVo: 3 Stars
IMDb: 7.7

deep red 1975Psychic Helga Ulmann senses the nearby presence of an unhinged psycho and begins to take notes in the hope of identifying them, only for them to come and cleaver her to death. This is witnessed by her musician neighbour, who then teams up with a plucky reporter to uncover the identity of the loon.

I saw this one quite late so much of its effect had blunted due to so many body count movies, but the amazing revelation that we actually have seen the killer’s face earlier on is nothing short of excellent.

*

9: Dream Home (Hong Kong, 2010)

VeVo: 4 Stars
IMDb: 6.7

dream house 2010

Hong Kong is one of my favourite cities, and affording a penthouse with a view of its admittedly stunning harbour is of such crucial important to bank employee Sheung, that she decides a spate of murders in her desired apartment block will force the prices to drop.

Sometimes staggeringly and disturbingly violent (the murder of the pregnant woman especially), but also darkly funny in part, this slasher satire is unflinchingly forthright with its grue and handsomely produced with an engaging non-linear narrative.

*

8: Opera (Italy, 1987)

VeVo: 3.5 Stars
IMDb: 7.1

opera 1987

When the diva breaks her leg after being hit by a car, ingenue opera star Betty is given her big chance but finds instead that she is stalked by a psychotic black-gloved murderer who is obsessed with her and tapes needles beneath her eyes to force her to watch as he kills various people in her life in Argento’s usual grisly ways.

At least partly inspired by Stagefright (and also featuring the lead actress Barbara Cupisti), this is less of a straight-up body count affair – as is always the case with DA – but nonetheless features some icky demises and the usual overdose of awesome visuals.

*

7: Anatomie (Germany, 2000)

VeVo: 4 Stars
IMDb: 6.1

anatomie 2000

A classy combo of 70s thriller Coma and Urban Legend, brilliant anatomy student Paula becomes suspicious when a classmate who had a rare heart condition ends up on the slab before her with gum-like blood. Some investigation uncovers a secret group of doctors who dissect living patients to get a closer look at diseases before they claim their victim’s life.

Amidst mucho medical chatter, there’s a solid slasher film at work, with some particularly awesome chase scenes towards the end.

*

6: Tenebrae (Italy, 1982)

VeVo: 3.5 Stars
IMDb: 7.2

tenebrae 1982

Argento again, as a famous American writer promoting his latest novel in Rome seems to be at the centre of a series of grisly razor blade slayings. With the help of his young protege, he investigates a possible suspect while countless sexy young women are hacked and slashed to ribbons as usual.

Tenebrae could be the most ‘American’ of Argento’s films (not that I’ve seen them all), with B-movie fixture John Saxon playing the agent of the main character. Wait for the inventive way the killer is modern-arted to death at the end.

*

5Julia’s Eyes (Spain, 2010)

VeVo: 4 Stars
IMDb: 6.7

julia's eyes

Julia (Belen Reuda) has a degenerative sight disorder that is slowly blinding her. After her twin sister Sarah – ahead of her in the sight-loss department – apparently hangs herself, Julia suspects somebody else assisted, but every avenue she investigates seems to result in the deaths of people around her.

Mucho giallo posturing takes place in this Spanish gem, with an entirely creepy moment where a blind woman says to Julia: “There’s someone else here with you – he’s right behind you.”

*

4: A Bay of Blood (Italy, 1971)

VeVo: 4 Stars
IMDb: 6.7

bay of blood 1971

Arguably the most important Italian giallo movie, a body count bonanza more than a little responsible for Friday the 13th‘s general outlook: Various people drawn to the home of a recently deceased countess are targeted by a killer or killers hungry for money, land, inheritance, whatever.

Nobody can be trusted and almost everyone is capable of killing to get their way, which sucks when you’re just one of a quartet of sexy teens who have no interest in any of it and just wants to party!

This has a veritable phone book of alternate titles around the world.

*

3: Haute Tension (France, 2003)

VeVo: 4 Stars
IMDb: 6.8

haute tension 2003

While the French take credit for inventing cinema and I sat there in my film screenings wondering what the hell all the fuss was over Amelie, it can’t be denied that they scored most of a home-run with Haute Tension (a.k.a. Switchblade Romance), a straightforward slasher tale so brutal and so edge-of-your-seat it’s just wiser to sit on the floor from the beginning.

College girls Marie and Alex go to the latter’s farmhouse home for their break and the family are assaulted in the night by a nasty psycho who drives the creepiest truck this side of Duel. He offs the family and takes Alex away for nastier pursuits, unaware that Marie was even at the house. She follows to rescue her friend and spends the next hour dodging detection.

But then there’s that twist, so divisive it could end marriages. Personally I didn’t mind it, but would’ve preferred them not to try and be so clever.

*

2: Cold Prey II (Norway, 2008)

VeVo: 4.5 Stars
IMDb: 6.2

cold prey ii 2008

Showing the world how to do a proper sequel, Cold Prey II not only manages to get the leading lady back for another round with the Fjellmannen, but even has the other cast members back to play their corpses in a genuinely heartbreaking morgue identification scene.

Going down the Halloween II route, sole survivor Jannicke recovers while foolish authority types try to resuscitate the killer, who rises from his slumber to break necks, slash throats, and pulverise faces with extinguishers anew. A heartbeat behind the original in terms of tension.

*

1: Cold Prey (Norway, 2006)

VeVo: 5 Stars
IMDb: 6.4

cold prey 2006Shocker. Squeezing kilometres out of tried and tested methods, Cold Prey is quite rightfully holder of the crown of best non-American, non-Canadian, non-British, non-Irish, non-other-English-speaking-nation, non-foreign-but-pretending-to-be-American slasher movie.

Five young snowboarders take shelter at a seemingly abandoned ski-lodge after one of them breaks his leg, but find that it isn’t abandoned at all, and a hulking Jason-like figure lives there, who doesn’t take kindly to intruders.

Everything that happens has pretty much happened before in another film, but it’s all brought together so perfectly in Cold Prey you have to wonder why that Jason-in-winter Friday the 13th episode has never been forged ahead with.

* * *

So there we have it – Norway apparently produces the best non-English language slasher films. I’m a tad disappointed it was so obvious, and that both #1 and #2 were occupied by sibling films. Hey-ho.

Since starting this, there’ve been a number of other foreign language films that entered my life, and so these adorables would’ve surely featured too:

Basag Ang Pula (Philippines, 1984) – thanks to Jenny Lo!
Bloody Reunion 
(South Korea, 2006)
Cemetery of Terror (Mexico, 1985)
Death Bell 2: Bloody Camp (South Korea, 2010)
Trampa Infernal (Mexico, 1989)

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